Editors Jimmy Lovaas and Joe Veyera discuss Tennessee's deadly tornado outbreak and the new round of storms headed for the U.S. South and Northeast, plus more on parliamentary elections in Serbia, a constitutional referendum in Chile, a presidential vote in DR Congo and a doctors’ strike in England.
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This episode was produced with work from Factal editors Joe Veyera, Alex Moore, Jaime Calle Moreno, Sophie Perryer and Irene Villora. Produced and edited by Jimmy Lovaas. Additional writing by Sophie Perryer. Music courtesy of Andrew Gospe.
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Copyright © 2023 Factal. All rights reserved.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
JIMMY LOVAAS, HOST:
Welcome to the Factal Forecast, a look at the week’s biggest stories and what they mean from the editors at Factal. I’m Jimmy Lovaas.
Today is December 14th.
In this week’s forecast we’ve got Tennessee's tornadoes and a new round of storms headed for the South and Northeast, parliamentary elections in Serbia, a constitutional referendum in Chile, a presidential vote in DR Congo and a doctors’ strike in England.
You can also read about these stories and more in our weekly newsletter, which you’ll find a link to in the show notes.
Severe weather in U.S. South
Information compiled by Joe Veyera
JIMMY: Up first, we’ll take a look at the recent tornadoes in Tennessee as well as a new round of storms. For more on that I’ve got the lead for our Americas desk, Joe Veyera.
JIMMY: Hello, Joe.
JOE: Hey Jimmy. Great to be back.
JIMMY: Thank you for being here.Unfortunately, we saw a pretty destructive storm hit the South last week and I'm hoping you can get us caught up to speed on what we need to know. Can you start off by giving us a recap?
JOE: Right, never here to talk about good news, it seems. So a total of six tornadoes touched down in Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky on Saturday and the National Weather Service called it the strongest outbreak for the region in almost 20 years. The storms left three people dead in the Nashville suburb of Madison and three more in Clarksville, which is near the Kentucky border. More than 60 other people were hurt. As far as damage goes, in Montgomery County, which includes Clarksville, around 275 residential sites have been deemed "uninhabitable," while nearly two dozen structures collapsed in Nashville proper and “countless others” were damaged, according to Mayor Freddie O'Connell. In a letter to President Biden sent Wednesday, Tennessee's congressional delegation said nearly 1,900 homes have been damaged statewide, with over 500 considered completely destroyed.
JIMMY: Well, what's the latest then? How are things going now?
JOE: So, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee declared a state of emergency on Sunday in conjunction with several local states of emergency, and shortly before we began recording, President Biden approved a federal disaster declaration making funding available to affected individuals across four counties. According to early estimates, the storms caused at least $13 million in damage statewide.
JIMMY: That's a lot of damage. How's the recovery process going then?
JOE: So, as of Wednesday afternoon, a few thousand customers remained without power across the state, including about 1,300 in Clarksville, where the utility said more than 100 poles would need to be replaced, and just over 1,000 in Nashville, with full restoration expected there by Friday. Meanwhile, there's really no timetable to restore and rebuild in the areas that suffered the brunt of the damage, but obviously that's a span measured in months and years rather than weeks.
JIMMY: Well, considering all that, what do you think folks should be watching for next?
JOE: Well, heading into the weekend, we're monitoring the potential for heavy rainfall across the Gulf Coast in Florida with several inches possible for the Miami area. Wet weather is then expected to make its way up the eastern seaboard into next week and may bring with it travel delays and the potential for flooding. So we'll just have to wait and see.
JIMMY: Well, Joe, we'll stop there for today. But as always, I thank you so much for letting us know what's on the horizon. Appreciate it.
JOE: Always love bringing you the good news, Jimmy.
JIMMY: Take care
Information compiled by Alex Moore
JIMMY: Serbia’s SNS coalition is expected to secure yet another victory in Sunday’s snap parliamentary elections.
The SNS, otherwise known as the Serbian Progressive Party, has been in power since 2012.
The party was formerly led by President Aleksander Vucic, who is not standing in Sunday’s vote, but remains a dominant figure in Serbian politics.
And although the polls favor an SNS victory, a new opposition movement is gaining traction in Serbia. The group, called “Serbia Against Violence”, was formed after May’s two mass shootings and the protests they triggered.
While the opposition is not expected to win a parliamentary majority, they are projected to win the mayoral race in Serbia’s capital Belgrade. This would signal a major symbolic defeat for Vucic.
Chile constitutional referendum
Information compiled by Jaime Calle Moreno
JIMMY: On Sunday, millions of Chileans will vote yes or no to proposed changes to the country’s constitution.
Chile’s current guiding principles were written during the rule of dictator Augusto Pinochet during the 1980s.
Last year the current government, led by President Gabriel Boric, led a vote to make the constitution more progressive but that draft was rejected by voters.
According to the latest polling, Chileans are expected to reject these changes to the constitution as well.
Now, this could bring about the downfall of President Boric’s government, which was elected in 2022 on a key manifesto promise of achieving a new constitution.
It’s not clear whether a new constitutional referendum will be organized if this one fails.
Protests over social reform, which have been a consistent feature of life in Chile since 2019, are likely to continue regardless of the outcome.
DR Congo presidential election
Information compiled by Sophie Perryer
JIMMY: Around 44 million voters in DR Congo will go to the polls on Wednesday. They’ll select a new president for the next five years.
The crowded field of 22 candidates includes incumbent President Félix Tshisekedi, who is seeking a second and final term.
On the opposition side, the main players are the mining magnate Moïse Katumbi, Nobel Peace Prize winner Denis Mukwege and leader of the Engagement for Citizenship and Development Party Martin Fayulu.
Fayulu is widely seen as the legitimate winner of the 2018 election but failed to take office due to allegations of political dealings involving Tshisekedi and the former President Joseph Kabila.
Now, campaigning has been impacted by allegations of irregularities. Some voters, in the capital Kinshasa, have already had to replace faded voting cards and there have been reports of officials demanding bribes to issue new ones.
Of course, the security situation in DR Congo is also complicating matters. The EU has scaled back its observer mission partly due to staff safety, and voting is not taking place in parts of the North Kivu region controlled by the militant group M23.
President Tshisekedi is expected to win the election, partly because of the fragmented opposition vote and partly because of DR Congo’s electoral system. The election takes place in a single round and the candidate with the largest share of the vote wins, even if they don’t have a majority.
Finally, there is a risk of violence on polling day for conflict-affected areas. We could also see questions around the legitimacy of the vote, especially given the issues with voter cards and DR Congo’s history of contested elections.
The results are expected to be announced by December 31st and the new president will be sworn in on January 20th.
Junior doctors’ strike in England
Information compiled by Irene Villora
JIMMY: Junior doctors in England will strike for three days starting Wednesday. It’s part of an ongoing dispute over pay.
The strike action is being organized by the British Medical Association, which represents almost 200,000 doctors.
The union has rejected the government’s latest pay increase offer of 3 percent as it says the figure still represents a real-terms pay cut for some parts of the medical workforce.
Patient appointments will be canceled and emergency services will be put under additional pressure as a result of the strike.
Further industrial action is scheduled to take place in January.
JIMMY: As always, thank you for listening to the Factal Forecast. We publish our forward-looking podcast and newsletter each Thursday to help you get a jump-start on the week ahead. Please subscribe and review wherever you find your podcasts. We’d love it if you’d consider telling a friend about us.
Today’s episode was produced with work from Factal editors Alex Moore, Jaime Calle Moreno, Sophie Perryer and Irene Villora. Sophie Perryer contributed additional writing. Our interview featured editor Joe Veyera and our podcast is produced and edited by me – Jimmy Lovaas. Our music comes courtesy of Andrew Gospe.
Until next time, if you have any feedback, suggestions or events we’ve missed, drop us a note by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
This transcript may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability not guaranteed.
Copyright © 2023 Factal. All rights reserved.
Music: 'Factal Theme' courtesy of Andrew Gospe